Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter FREEZE & Snow

After a relatively mild December, January has really provided a very sharp reminder of just how cold and snowy it can get in New Hampshire!   And February is already looking to be just as wintery!

Back to back storms have resulted in large snowbanks around the property, at the end of the driveway, along the roads, at the supermarket, everywhere you look.   All in part due to the fact that the back to back storms have hit us without the benefit of the usual "January Thaws".   The snow has remained fluffy and just keeps accumulating.

And to top that, temperatures dropped to the lowest WE have ever seen in our 6 years here, bottoming out at -14.   FAHRENHEIT, not Celcius.   Brrrrrrrr!!!

Since we plow the pastures, the horses always have space to "graze" on their hay without stomping through deep snow.   But even providing that luxury may become a challenge as the storms keep rolling in.

As winter progresses, some of the horses are in light work....   But most are just resting, staying warm and well fed, and enjoying the season.

Without exception, all of our horses LOVE the snow.   Each of them rolls in it every day.   And they are all happy to soak up the winter rays, sometimes standing around, snoozing in their pastures.   Even when the winds blow, instead of seeking shelter, we often see them standing outside, haunches to the wind.

It's all very peaceful until one of them starts feeling playful and instigates a round of horseplay.

As long as the horses have water, food, shelter, and are blanketed according to their coats and condition, winter is NOT a problem.   As an added precaution, we put on fly masks to prevent damage to the eyes due to the bright sunlight.   I like to think it also protects their eyes from possible harm from icy cold winds.   I can say that, because I pulled a flymask over my own face the other day while leading a horse back to the barn, just to try to prevent my face from freezing in the wind.

It may have been a serious fashion faux pas, but it worked surprisingly well.   My eyes were sufficiently protected.   Watch.   Flymasks will be all the rage next winter, on horses AND their owners!   :-)

(Photo to left)   2009 USDF Region 8 3rd Level Dual Reserve Champion "Jeddien" is dieting as part of her 2011 new year's resolutions.   So, the afternoon hay delivery to the pasture via a snow sled is always greeted with enthusiasm.   As viewed from straight on, it's pretty obvious the 20 year old mare is not wasting away from winter cold.

With record breaking arctic temperatures and 100 gallon outdoor heated water troughs, we have been watching $$$ quickly evaporate into the cold air.   1500 watt heaters work great, but suck up the electricity.   Using timers helps...   Reducing the contents of the troughs to 50 gallons helps as well.   Still, we believe there has to be another way.

We are now experimenting with two new concepts to help reduce costs while continuing to provide outdoor water for horses in each pasture.

1)   500 watt aluminum de-icers from Farm Innovators

        and....   wait for it....

2)   Aeration systems.   Yes, aeration.   Georg's own custom design!

Even early into the aeration experiment, at 8 degrees Fahrenheit, Georg's aeration system is preventing his test water trough, which has about 50 gallons of water in it, from freezing.   Just by keeping the water moving with air bubbles.

Stay tuned for how THAT works out!   Meanwhile, stay warm and stock up on flymasks!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011 !

And so it all begins once again.  A new year.  And with it, thoughts about new goals.

By the end of 2010, Kearsarge Meadows lesson horse Piper Warrior and farm owner Kimberley had achieved their 2010 dressage goals, and then some.  They made it to the 2010 USDF Region 8 Championships in 3 categories!  And they finished 2010 with several National & New England Dressage Association (NEDA) year end awards, including:
  • Champion - NEDA Year End Award, USDF Freestyles
  • Champion - Top Scoring KWPN Dutch WB at the NEDA Fall Festival / USDF Region 8 Championships
  • Reserve Champion - USDF All Breeds, KWPN First Level Freestyles, Vintage Rider
  • 3rd Place - USDF All Breeds, KWPN First Level, Vintage Rider
  • 3rd Place - USDF All Breeds, KWPN Training Level, Vintage Rider
  • 4th Place - USDF Region 8 First Level Freestyle Championships
  • Multiple High Score of the Day show awards

The 2010 NEDA Year End Championship for USDF Freestyles came with a massive championship ribbon and a gorgeous embroidered Mountain Horse jacket.   Very nice!

For the USDF All Breeds KWPN Reserve Championship title, we received a really nice 2 1/2 inch USDF silver medal on a red ribbon.  That was quite a surprise.  Now that we know about these awards, we would like to see Kearsarge Meadows horses earn some more All Breeds medals!  Gold would be nice....

Anyone looking at Piper this morning would find it a little difficult to imagine the woolly black warmblood ready to compete again in four months time, but that is part of this year's game plan.  Well, that's only if he does not sell before then.    (Click here to view Piper's online for sale ad.)

And the plan for Big Ben is for him to enjoy lots of dressage arena time before he is sold.   (Click here to view Ben's online for sale ad.)

For another youngster in our barn, Jeddien's daughter Bea, training begins in earnest this year. Jeddien will be giving lessons to those who want to feel the upper level movements of dressage and also those who want to have a safe, easy, pushbutton ride.

And finally, we have a number of students who will be competing this year, training for and pursuing their own riding & competition goals.  Whether their goal is to perfect 20 meter circles at home, develop a more confident trail horse, have a few enjoyable outtings with their horse, or compete in the 2011 USDF Regional Championships, we'll have fun working on progress and success together.

Today, January 1st, 2011, it is a whooping 55 degrees outside!!!!   Our woolly horses are outside, rolling in the melting snow, and enjoying a sneak preview of weather not meant to arrive in New Hampshire for another few months.  It's all a bit surreal.

So, for now :   Happy New Year, Everyone!